Before the Marsh Harbour Airport was built in 1959, the small island of Elbow Cay was a remote, sleepy outpost with fishing and shipwreck salvage as main sources of livelihood. Hope Town, its only settlement, was co-founded in 1785 by Wyannie Malone, a widow from South Carolina who traveled with her four children for safe refuge after the American Revolution.
The community of Hope Town has done a tremendous job in the preservation and education of their past. The Wyannie Malone Museum exhibits and preserves much of the settlement’s rich and diverse history through memorabilia, artifacts, old photos and documents. The community has also sustained other parts of their history: the cholera graveyard and the building of the Abaco dinghies that are seen at regattas throughout The Islands of The Bahamas.
Adjacent Elbow Reef is home to one of the most recognizable landmarks in the country, the candy-striped lighthouse. Residents of Hope Town initially opposed this lighthouse being built in the 1860’s, as it was foreseen as a direct threat to their wrecking trade. They now lovingly embrace it and actively resist automation ot its remaining beacons.
Over the years, Hope Town has become a very sought-after vacation spot because of its quaint picturesque appearance and its historic features. The pastel-colored wooden homes and businesses here are fine examples of Loyalist architecture. In addition to its rich and diverse history, there are several gift shops, restaurants and cottages lining the town's narrow streets. You will experience the relaxed pace of a bygone age, where cars are forbidden and you get around on foot or bicycle. Golf carts and cars are permitted outside of the town center.